—interview by Bianca Betancourt @bybiancabee
This story is one among many in CIRCUS' second print edition celebrating women in music. Pre-order your copy here.
The new era of R&B is a more intimate one—where aside from revelations of life and love, today’s new batch of rhythmic crooners are entering a lyrical renaissance reminiscent of lucid dreaming—sounds that echo the individual artists’ conscious, a la Frank Ocean, versus solely focusing on the themes of sex and...sex.
Chicago based singer Aaliyah Allah is one of the latest talents to emerge from the Windy City’s exploding music scene. Her latest EP titled “Being” is an introspective and honest musical account of the singer’s day to day emotions and experiences. We spoke with the young songstress about the inspiration behind her latest project, detailed below.
Why is your new EP titled Being?
AA: “Being” started off as a tattoo idea. I wanted to get the present participle of the word ”Be” as a reminder to practice being present and comfortable in my own skin. I’ve struggled with anxiety for years and Being represents me being pure to myself in all circumstances. Being is me transitioning from wishing and daydreaming about having the courage to pursue my ambitious goals to actually being who I want to be and taking the steps towards the right direction even if I am fearful.
What are your favorite subjects to narrate in your music?
AA: Most of my songs are definitely love songs. Some are romantic and some are love songs that I wrote to myself. Overall, I just like to make music that creates a feeling that others can relate to.
Who are some of your biggest musical inspirations? Whose career do you model yours after?
Some of my favorite artists whose sounds I admire are people like Little Dragon, SZA, Kelela, Kali Uchis and Hiatus Kaiyote. They all have very unique styles. But I get the most inspired by seeing local artists like Ravyn Lenae, Jean Deaux and others actively pursuing their dreams. They make me feel like I have a chance. I don’t really model my career after anyone, I would just like to be able to create music, explore more creative mediums and be happy while floating in a body of water and sipping wine.
What are some of your favorite songs you’ve made?
AA: I would have to say “Infatuated” is one of my favorites. Infatuated was the very first song I ever released publicly back in 2013. Although I hate the quality of it because I recorded it with a USB mic on Garageband and I did not know how to mix songs, it is probably the most raw, organic song I’ll ever be able to make. Another favorite is “Baby” from my EP, probably because it a sincere vibe similar to Infatuated. I recorded and mixed that song on my own on my computer as well. “Electric Lady” is also a favorite because it is the first upbeat song I’ve made. I really wanted to make something people could dance to.
Who would be your dream collaborators?
AA: Mndsgn is like my first love. I stole one of his beats from Youtube and made a song called “Water Me”. It is my dream to formally collab with him. I would love a Tame Impala collab. I would love the chance to hop on a Monte Booker, Sango, and Kaytranada beat. A Frank Ocean collab would also be insane.
Color was used super prominently in your promotional images for your latest EP. Were there specific stories behind every color used?
AA: I wanted to create an image/feeling for each song, so I decided to do a color coordinated cover for each song on the EP. I listened to each song and paired a color with it. “Baby” is baby blue, it’s a calm, chill color. “Venus” is red, a sensual color. “Electric Lady” is yellow, which is a more bold, energetic color. The main front and back covers for the EP are completely white which is kind of like all of the colors coming together.
As an artist, as a woman, as a musician, how do you want to be remembered?
AA: I haven’t really thought that far into the future. I would hope that people think of me as a warm, genuine person. I hope that I can inspire others to take a leap of faith and have the courage to work towards their dreams as well.